Iraq has plans in store to send delegations to Russia, China and Ukraine to discuss buying modern air defense systems to protect its territory from any possible aggression or violation of its sovereignty, says Badr al-Ziyadi, a member of the parliament’s security and defense committee.
“The delegations intend to visit such countries as Russia, China and Ukraine, to negotiate the purchase of modern systems to protect Iraq’s airspace,” he told As Sabah newspaper. “The Iraqi parliament is right now forming a joint executive and legislative delegation to visit the developed countries and sign contracts on procuring advanced weapons.”
According to al-Ziyadi, the lawmakers are looking into obtaining weapons in exchange for Iraqi oil shipments, similar to the “oil for reconstruction” agreement signed with China recently.
“Many nations indicated [their] readiness to ship modern weapons to Iraq in exchange for oil,” the lawmaker said. “This is the best way to ensure the shipment of good weapons to Iraq without corruption and bribery.”
According to the legislator, the delegations would also like to talk over completing the installation of modern thermal imaging devices at the border, which will help detect and prevent any terrorist infiltration.
“The inadequate arming of border forces with modern weapons was the result of a mistake in relying on an agreement with the United States which spent enormous sums of money and never fully the finished [the project],” al-Ziyadi said. “This is why the Iraqis must count on themselves and turn to the eastern bloc to equip its army.”
Buying Russia’s S-400s and US intervention
Earlier in January, The Wall Street Journal reported citing Iraqi lawmakers that Baghdad was mulling over buying Russia’s S-400 air defense systems and were in negotiations with Moscow. According to the legislators, Iraq decided to step up the consultations because of a looming US troop pullout. According to the WSJ’s sources, Russian officials earlier offered these systems to Iraq. On January 14, US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Joey Hood opined that Washington might impose sanctions on Iraq if it does buy the Russian missile defense systems.
Later, commenting on these threats, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said that Moscow did not fear Washington’s sanctions, and knows how to counter those restrictions. Meanwhile, this past September, Al-Ziyadi said that the Iraqi legislature would provide the government with all kinds of support and furnish it with all the legitimate authority and power in the event of a decision to purchase the S-400s.
The S-400 is a Russian medium-and long-range anti-aircraft missile defense system, designated to hit planes and cruise missiles at a distance of 400 km and ballistic targets travelling faster than Mach 10 at a distance of 60 km.